Monday, April 18, 2016


(My theme is places I have visited or lived)


I was stationed in Japan at the MCAS Iwakuni in early 1974. At some point I was deployed to Okinawa (the rock) for a 60 day deployment. It was not fun.

Okinawa Island is the largest of the Okinawa Islands and the Ryukyu (Nansei) Islands of Japan. The island has an area of 1,206.96 square kilometers (466.01 sq mi). It is roughly 640 kilometres (400 mi) south of the rest of Japan, roughly the same distance off the coast of China, and 500 km (300 mi) north of Taiwan. 

The Greater Naha area, home to the capital (or more accurately—prefectural seat) of Okinawa Prefecture on the southwestern part of Okinawa Island, has roughly 800,000 of the island's 1.3 million residents, while the city itself is home to about 320,000. The island hosts the majority of the US troops stationed in Japan. Over the last 70 years, there have been periods of conflict and distrust between the US troops and the local Japanese population.

The island's population is known as one of the longest living people in the world, together with the Sardinians whose island is located in the Mediterranean sea (22 centenarians/100,000 inhabitants); in fact, there are 34 centenarians per 100,000 people, which is more than three times the rate of mainland Japan.

The Battle of Okinawa codenamed Operation Iceberg, was a series of battles fought in the Ryukyu Islands, centered on the island of Okinawa, and included the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War during World War II, the 1 April 1945 invasion of the island of Okinawa itself.[18][19] The 82-day-long battle lasted from 1 April until 22 June 1945. After a long campaign of island hopping, the Allies were approaching Japan, and planned to use Okinawa, a large island only 340 mi (550 km) away from mainland Japan, as a base for air operations on the planned invasion of the Japanese mainland (coded Operation Downfall). 

Four divisions of the U.S. 10th Army (the 7th27th77th, and 96th) and two Marine Divisions (the 1st and 6th) fought on the island. Their invasion was supported by naval, amphibious, and tactical air forces.

The battle has been referred to as the "typhoon of steel" in English, and tetsu no ame ("rain of steel") or tetsu no bōfū("violent wind of steel") in Japanese.The nicknames refer to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of kamikaze attacks from the Japanese defenders, and to the sheer numbers of Allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island. The battle was one of the bloodiest in the Pacific.

The Allied forces suffered 14,009 deaths (over 12,500 Americans killed or missing) with an estimated total of more than 82,000 casualties of all kinds. This does not include several thousand who succumbed to their injuries received during the battle, but died days and even months later.

Based on Okinawan government sources, Japan admittedly lost 77,166 soldiers (not including civilians and supporting naval or air forces based elsewhere) during the campaign, who either died of wounds, were killed or committed suicide during the battle. No figures are given for supporting Japanese forces killed. Allied grave registration forces counted 110,071 dead bodies. Simultaneously, some 42,000 to 150,000 local civilians (including all male citizens over 18 and both male and many female students under age 18 who were drafted to fight the invaders) were killed or committed suicide or went missing, a significant proportion of the estimated pre-war 300,000 local population.

The severity of the campaign, along with many civilians fighting, led to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which together with the Soviet invasion of Manchuria caused Japan to surrender less than two months after the end of the fighting on Okinawa.


Arlee Bird said...

These are some horrifying statistics. It's good that we have managed to reconcile with Japan to the extent that we have. I wouldn't mind going to Japan for a tourist visit, but having the money to do it is probably unlikely. And I'd never get my wife to agree to go there.

Interesting history about WW2 in this post.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

nashvillecats2 said...

Gregg, that was some place, a far cry from America, What memories you must have. This shows you in a different light to the Greggg we all love and know.

shortybear said...


Persis said...

You've travelled far and wide, Gregg.

War is so tragic. Come Lord Jesus!